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10 foods you didn’t know you could cook in the microwave

Microwaves: we all have them! But don’t relegate them to only reheating ready meals and maybe making popcorn once in a while – they can be really versatile if you know how.

Easy microwave food

Let's be honest, sometimes cooking (and washing up) seems like way too much effort. But it doesn't always have to be that way.

We’ve put together a list of the top foods that are easy to cook in the microwave, without any special equipment.

If you use these recipes or techniques you can really speed up your cooking – and remember, time is money!

If you're in the mood for easy cooking, why not check out our delicious recipes you can make using baked beans?

Fluffy rice

Rice is one of those things that so many people struggle to cook, but if you can prepare it properly it’s a cheap staple that’s really versatile.

You’ll save a fortune making it with this technique, compared to splashing out on microwave pouches or boil in the bag.

You’ll need:

  • Rice
  • Cold water
  • A large microwaveable bowl
  • A lid (a normal plate will do)

How to do it:

  1. Measure out your rice – 1 cup makes two generous portions.
  2. If you’re using a long grain rice (like basmati) you’ll now need to wash the rice until the water coming off it is relatively clear. If you’re doing sticky or easy cook rice, this isn’t necessary.
  3. Once your rice is rinsed and drained add the same volume of cold water as rice into your microwavable bowl – plus another half a cup. So if you used 1 cup of rice, you’ll need 1 and a half cups of cold water, for half a cup of rice, use 1 cup of water, and so on.
  4. This tip isn’t compulsory but you can add seasonings at this point if you don’t want plain rice. Half a teaspoon of turmeric makes your rice an attractive bright yellow colour that looks great with a curry, and you could add flavour with a cardamom pod if you have any.
  5. Cover your bowl. You can use cling film, but we find a normal dinner plate placed on top is less wasteful and works just as well. You’ll also end up with a hot plate to serve your food on when you’re finished!
  6. Put it on full power for 10 minutes and give your rice a check. If it needs a bit more time put it back on for a few more minutes and check again. When it’s done it might appear quite solid in the bowl, but fluff it with a fork and you should have the perfect rice every time!

Scrambled eggs

Scrambled eggs are pretty easy to cook on a hob, but washing a frying pan and a wooden spoon is a lot of effort for such a simple dish.

With this microwave method you can get away with only using one bowl and one fork – easy!

You’ll need:

  • One or two eggs per person
  • A splash of milk or water
  • Seasoning

How to do it:

  1. Put all of the ingredients into a normal cereal bowl, and mix them together with your fork.
  2. Microwave your bowl for 30 seconds and stir.
  3. Microwave for another 10 seconds, stir and repeat until you get your desired consistency.

Poached eggs

Unlike scrambled eggs, poached eggs are a bit of a pain to make with any method, unfortunately. But if you follow our instructions you’ll be eating homemade eggs benedict in no time. Classy…

You’ll need:

  • A fresh egg (if it’s nearing its best before date, this won’t work)
  • Cold water
  • Vinegar
  • Cling film

How to do it:

  1. Get a normal sized mug and fill it up about halfway with cold water, then add a splash of vinegar.
  2. You'll then need to carefully crack an egg into the mug, making sure you don’t break the yolk.
  3. Once it’s in the water use something sharp to delicately pierce a hole in the yolk – if you don’t do this then your egg is likely to explode. Cover your mug with some cling film, just in case.
  4. Put it in the microwave for 60 seconds then look at the egg. If the white doesn’t look cooked, put it in for 10 more seconds. Keep doing this until your yolks are as runny as you like them!

Steamed salmon

Cooking fish yourself can be a bit off-putting – there are bones, and while you don’t want to overcook it, you don’t trust yourself to make sushi at home, either.

Cooking salmon fillets with this method is stress-free and healthy too.

You’ll need:

  • Salmon fillets
  • Clingfilm
  • A plate
  • Something to flavour the salmon

How to do it:

  1. Place the salmon onto a microwavable plate.
  2. Add something to flavour the salmon – pesto is nice, or you could keep it simple with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon. Just apply it directly to the fillets – easy peasy!
  3. Wrap the whole plate in cling film and put it into the microwave for 3–5 minutes depending on how many fillets you’re cooking.
  4. Check the firmness of the salmon and if it looks opaque it’s done.
  5. Unwrap the clingfilm and drain off any excess liquid – then serve.

Frothy milk

If you love having lattes and cappuccinos for £3 a go at Starbucks, this is worth trying out – you could save a fortune making your own frothy coffees at home. Ingredients-wise this is barely a recipe, but it totally works!

You’ll need:

  • An empty jam jar
  • Milk

How to do it:

  1. Fill your jam jar up with as much milk as you like with your coffee – but no more than halfway full.
  2. Screw the lid on and shake the jar for up to 60 seconds, until it starts looking really foamy.
  3. Take the lid off and pop it in in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  4. It should froth up and it’s ready for you to add to a drink of your choice.

Microwave mug cake

Microwave mug cake is an old favourite, but often it turns out as a bit too eggy and doesn’t live up to our expectations. This recipe is a good’un though.

You’ll need:

  • 4 tablespoons of self raising flour
  • 4 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 3 tablespoons of oil (vegetable/sunflower)
  • 1 small or medium egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips or nuts (optional)
  • A large mug (think Sports Direct size) or a similar sized bowl

How to do it:

  1. Add the dry ingredients to the mug and mix together.
  2. Crack the egg in and stir until it’s all combined.
  3. Then chuck in the remaining ingredients, adding in the chocolate chips or nuts last if you’re using them.
  4. Put it in the microwave for 2–3 minutes, or until it stops rising.

This should be enough to serve two people and goes great with vanilla ice cream!

Perfect pasta

We always cook our pasta in the microwave, it’s seriously low-effort, but not many people know that you can do it.

If you find watching the hob a bit of a chore, and are bored of scrubbing pans this method is ideal.

You’ll need:

  • Pasta
  • Cold water
  • A microwavable container

How to do it:

  1. Put your pasta into the container and cover with cold water. If you want to cook a long type of pasta like spaghetti we recommend you pick up a special microwave pasta container like the Fasta Pasta that’s big enough to fit all types of pasta.
  2. Put the microwave on for 10 minutes, and check it. If it doesn’t seem done, put it on for a few more minutes.
  3. Drain and serve.

Bacon

Microwaved bacon does sound a little bit iffy, we know. But it’s possible, and it’s less messy than grilling and there’s no extra oil required.

You’ll need:

  • Bacon
  • Kitchen roll
  • Two plates

How to do it:

  1. Put a couple of sheets of kitchen roll onto a plate, and lay the bacon flat on top of it (not overlapping).
  2. Cover the bacon with another two sheets of kitchen roll then place the other plate on top upside down.
  3. Microwave for 3–4 minutes and when it looks done quickly remove the bacon from the kitchen roll before it cools too much – otherwise it’ll stick.
  4. Serve.

Poppadoms

Buying “raw” poppadoms is so much cheaper than the pre cooked ones – you can get a 200g pack for £1.20 vs 72g for £1.75 for the ready-to-eat ones in Sainsbury’s, AND they don’t go stale as quickly – but the hassle and possible risks of deep fat frying can be off-putting.

We were definitely surprised when we heard they can be cooked in the microwave, but this actually works – and with no need for any extra oil or equipment!

You’ll need:

  • Raw poppadoms

How to do it:

There are a lot of different 'recipes' online for how to make poppadoms in the microwave, but the general consensus is to:

  1. Lay them on a plate and make sure the poppadoms aren’t touching each other.
  2. Then put them in the microwave for about 60–90 seconds.

They don’t taste exactly like the deep fried version, and if you’re not convinced after trying one, you can brush one (or both) sides with a little bit of oil and try again.

Caramel sauce

Want to jazz up plain ice cream or cake? This easy microwave caramel sauce recipe is a must!

Warning: this stuff is addictive.

You’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon of butter (14g or ½ an ounce if your butter isn’t spoonable)
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of double cream
  • A pinch of salt if you’re using unsalted butter

How to do it:

  1. Put the butter into an average sized mug and put in the microwave for 30 seconds or until it seems melted. We'd recommend you cover the mug, as butter has a tendency to explode.
  2. Add the brown sugar, cream and salt if you’re using it, stir and put back in for 30 seconds.
  3. Take it out and stir once more, and put it in for another 10 seconds.
  4. Remove from the microwave and pour on something to make it delicious.

Have you seen our other student recipe articles?

Let us know if you have any other great microwave hacks in the comments below.

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